2014 Toyota Highlander Driving Impressions

The Toyota Highlander is easy to drive, much more like a car than a sport-utility. The badges rightly say all-wheel drive now rather than four-wheel drive, and you should consider it a traction aid and not an invitation to off-road travel.

Most Highlander models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 Toyota uses in many cars. Its 270 horsepower are more than sufficient, generally smooth and quiet. EPA says 19/25 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, 18/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. A 6-speed automatic transmission helps with decent fuel economy but don’t expect car-like mileage from a two-plus-ton wagon.

Base models use a 185- horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder truck engine (also found in Tacoma and Venza), which is surprisingly adept in the front-wheel-drive Highlander. EPA estimates are 20/25 mpg City/Highway, giving the four-cylinder just a one-mpg advantage over a front-drive V6.

Hybrid models use a different 3.5-liter V6 and electric motors for a 280-hp system. It didn’t feel quite as quiet or smooth (the brake pedal regeneration trigger effect requires more attention for smooth braking) as a gas-only Limited. Also, the Hybrid’s fuel economy advantage is primarily urban, as it rates 27/28 mpg City/Highway. For road trippers, the gas-only probably makes more sense. On a golf course we did try the EV-only mode and couldn’t quite reach 25 mph in it.

The 2014 Highlander has more steering effort than before if not more feedback, but we suspect most owners will like the smooth, go-where-you-point it steering that isolates front-wheel impacts. The suspension has been buttoned up some: It now feels like the suspension is absorbing the bumps, not a bunch of rubbery isolation joints, and as a result is generally nicer to drive. We couldn’t find enough volunteers to test the ride fully loaded.

18-inch aluminum wheels are standard, with 19-inch wheels on the Limited. Although tires on our samples were from Michelin, Toyo, and Bridgestone, we thought the 18s offered just a little less road noise and impact harshness but the 19s are the only way to get all the options.

All vehicle specifications, prices and equipment are subject to change without notice. See above for information on purchase financing and lease program expiration dates. Prices and payments (including the amount down payment) do not include tax, titles, tags, documentation charges, emissions testing charges, or other fees required by law or lending organizations. The estimated payments may not include upfront finance charges that must be paid to be eligible for the purchase financing program used to estimate the APR and payments. Listed Annual Percentage Rates are provided for the selected purchase financing or lease programs available on the current date. Program expiration dates reflect currently announced program end dates, but these programs are subject to change at any time.

Lessees will be financially responsible for mileage beyond the elected quantity and for vehicle maintenance and repairs and excessive vehicle wear. Option to purchase at lease end for an amount may be determined at lease signing. Payments may be higher in some states. You may not be able to combine other incentives with the purchase financing or leasing programs presented above. Residency restrictions may apply. See dealer for details.

Listed APR, down payment, payments, incentives and other terms are estimates for example purposes only. Information provided is based on very well-qualified buyers or lessees. The payment information provided here is not a commitment by any organization to provide credit, leases or other programs. Some customers may not qualify for listed programs. Your terms may vary. Lessor must approve lease. Credit approval required.

Incentives & Offers

  • AdChoices